You don’t need a high-end cleaning machine
If you are a thrift store scrounger like I am, no doubt you realized long ago a good record cleaner and brush is of the utmost importance. Those 2 things really are all you need to keep your vinyl playing properly.
Honestly, every record needs to be cleaned. Thrift store vinyl, and other finds from yard sales and flea markets can be brought back to life with a good wet cleaning.
As long as you are careful to pay attention to deep marks ahead of a buy, you’ll realize that a dusty or soiled record can be easily salvaged for your own collection, or even to re-sell online.
If you’re new to the hobby, I would not waste my time on mildew smelling items, water damaged, or warped vinyl. These records should have been thrown away instead of donated to the local Goodwill anyway.
I have found records from labels like Blue Note, Prestige, and Columbia, that at first looked unplayable, but after a good wet cleaning turned out to sound almost noise free.
Also this bares mentioning: Some times a record can end up being a bad pressing, and no amount of cleaning will make it sound good, It does happen. Also groove wear or “over played” records will not benefit much from cleaning if the grooves themselves have been worn out.
Cleaning new and near mint vinyl
New vinyl also needs to be cleaned, as it is thought to be important to get a thin residue from newly pressed vinyl that might affect overall sound quality.
Also if you buy reissue or sealed vintage albums, keep them cleaned and dusted regularly with a carbon fiber anti static brush. You should also place them in a clear plastic LP sleeve, your vinyl will stay in good shape for years to come.
As an avid collector of vinyl records myself, I have come to realize that the carbon fiber anti static record cleaning brush, “see above” is without a doubt my most used record cleaning device.
I use my brush on a daily basis before every LP I play just to touch up the record. The fibers are designed to get down deep into the grooves, and actually attract the dust, so it “jumps out” at the brush. I can’t complain because the fibers do seem to do a good job without causing any scuffs.
Spin Clean Demonstration
This demo below is by far the best of the many demos out there for the spin clean.
Vinyl is not exactly convenient
If you portend to be a serious vinyl record collector, you should understand that one of the realities of the hobby is keeping the vinyl surface clean.
Some connoisseurs go to extremes cleaning their LP’s, buying heavy-duty vacuum cleaning machines that can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars, do you have that kind of cash lying around?
You probably don’t, I know I don’t have the kind of coin to afford a VPI or a Nitty Gritty machine, but there are many options available that won’t completely break your bank, they will do the job that needs done.
You will need a carbon fiber anti static record cleaning brush, this brush will dry clean and actually attract dust particles out of the grooves, they will actually jump out at the brush as you gently brush the vinyl’s playing surface.
I believe at a least you should have the above tools to assure quality playback of your vinyl, you can of course check out the many other options to cleaning vinyl, ranging from cheap to ridiculously expensive.
Sometimes I do get tired of turning the record over after 20 minutes or so, and yeah, every once in a while the dreaded sticking repeat will pop up, and remind you why people went to the cassette and then the CD over vinyl. For me though, it’s more about a connection with the past, my past… and vinyl is the only format that makes me feel those closely held emotions.
I don’t mind having to clean those records, even if it does get tedious at times, it’s a small price to pay for the reward the hobby brings.
*Photos used with permission via Amazon.com.*
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Jason Sositko, a freelance writer and entrepreneur is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I also use services such as Viglink and Skimlinks to earn income via links placed inside articles.